Breast Reconstruction: Cost, Risk, Recovery

Overview

Breast reconstruction is a procedure to restore the shape of a breast. It is frequently performed after a mastectomy (surgery to remove a breast after a breast cancer). For some patients who don’t want to reconstruct the breast, they can wear bras with prosthetic inserts to keep the balance of the remaining breast. Before making the decision, the patient needs to consult with an experienced plastic surgeon. Breast reconstruction is usually combined with some additional surgeries, such as an implant procedure. a breast lift, or a breast reduction for some patients whose breast size is much larger than the average people.

Candidates

People have the following conditions can be good candidates for breast reconstruction:

  • Be able to understand the diagnosis and treatment
  • Physically healthy and do not have other medical conditions or illness
  • Have a positive and realistic expectations of the surgery

Risks

Like any surgery, breast reconstruction may bring about some risks, which include but are not limited to:

  • Infection
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Complications from the anesthesia
  • Poor healing of incisions

Considering that breast reconstruction requires a series of additional surgeries, you should also know other risks during the procedure.

Flap surgery

Depending on the material used during the procedure, a flap surgery can result in:

  • Partial or complete loss of the flap if a free flap is used
  • Weakening of the abdominal muscles in a TRAM Flap procedure
  • Weakening of the gluteal muscle in a Gluteal Flap procedure

Implant surgery

The use of implants carries the risk of:

  • Breast firmness (capsular contracture)
  • Implant rupture

Costs

The total fee for breast reconstruction can vary depending on the market price of each state, the extent of the procedure, patients’ specific needs, and whether the procedure is covered by health insurance or not.

  • Without health insurance, breast reconstruction with implants typically costs $5,000 to $15,000 per breast, or 10,000 to $30,000 for both sides.
  • Without health insurance, breast reconstruction with “flap” techniques typically costs $25,000 to $50,000 per breast, or $50,000 to $100,000 for both sides.
  • With health insurance, patients only need to pay a few hundred to several thousand dollars by themselves. In rare cases, costs can reach over $10,000.

Preparation

The preparations needed prior to a breast reconstruction depends on the patient’s specific procedure, preferences and the doctor’s best judgement. The patient is commonly asked to:

  • Get lab testing or a medical evaluation
  • Take certain medications or adjust current medications
  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding

The patient should stay in hospital for a short period, waiting for the surgery to be performed. The doctor is likely to use general anesthesia. In some follow-up procedures, local anesthesia with sedation may be used.

How it is done

A plastic surgeon is responsible for doing breast reconstruction. It mainly serves those women who have all or part of their breasts removed in mastectomy. The surgery rebuilds the breast mound to match the size and shape of the other breast. The nipple and the darker area around the nipple can also be added.

Recovery

The patient may apply gauze or elastic bandages to your incisions after completing a breast reconstruction surgery. To minimize swelling and support the rebuilt breast, the patient needs to wear an elastic bandage or support bra. To drain any excess blood or fluid, the doctor will temporarily place a small, thin tube under the patient’s skin. What’s more, the doctor will also give some specific instructions, including:

  • Ways to take care of the postoperative wound
  • Medications to speed up the recovery
  • Specific concerns in the patient’s general health
  • The time to return for follow-up care

Keywords: breast reconstruction.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.